coolthaihouse.com blog

some thoughts from Dozer
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psychology of a Thai worker

image dsc20773.jpgIt is hard to find a good emergency handyman around here, but I have one that will come on a moments notice and does pretty good work. When the pump when out the other day we had him come over. The pump just needed to be tweaked a bit and it was fixed. Since he was already here, I decided to have him install a locking door stop on the back door, which I was planning on doing myself. The previous one, which was of the ball bearing type, had gone out. psychology of During this entire episode, I had the chance to observe and make some note about the work. I always have trouble when small jobs, or even big jobs, need to be done — the workers seem to always be in such a hurry that they tend to cut a lot of corners.

image dsc20780.jpgOn this particular day the worker didn’t bring his tools. So, as I was hurrying around to get my tools to have him use, he was busy getting the thing ready. I got the drill, the appropriate cement bit and threaded screw housings (as pictured). He would need to drill 3 holes in the cement and insert the housing. The drill has a plastic measuring gauge which allows the hole to be drilled exactly to the correct depth. It just needs to be attached to the drill. As I asked him if he wanted to use it, he just said – no not necessary. I told him about the time another worker had drilled all the way through the wall — he was already drilling. When he went to insert the threaded screw housings he didn’t have a hammer. I went inside to go get one, but he was already hitting the screw housing with the back of the screwdriver.

The screw housing couldn’t go all the way into the hole – since it was not drilled deep enough. He asked for a knife and cut off the end of the plastic housing. Lucky in this case that the screws weren’t too long.

Finally there is an attachment which goes on the door. I was figuring he would drill a pilot hole and then screw it in. No, he just used raw pressure to screw into the hardwood door. He did comment before that the original workmen (who had installed the previous one) had just driven the screw in with a hammer. Apparently this is a fairly common practice that one needs to keep an eye out for (driving screws in with a hammer).

This really isn’t a story of poor workmanship as the finished job was fine. I just realized however, even if you offered to pay double to a Thai worker if he slowed down, got the correct tools together and took his time — it wouldn’t work. All my carefully worded phrases about ‘let’s take our time here’ go by the wayside. There don’t know the slow or medium pace – it is just the way all have been trained (at least all that I’ve worked with) and work. If there isn’t a hammer around, they will use something else to hit the nail (as opposed to asking for a hammer).

If I was installing the door stop, I would have used at least 1/2 hour to complete the job. First off I would have got all the tools ready before hand. Secondly I would measure to the exact depth of the holes. I would use a pilot hole on the door screws. I wouldn’t eyeball either side of the assembly but would have carefully marked and punched the spot for all holes. In the unlikely event that I did drill a hole to insufficient depth, I would pull out the used plastic housing and re-drill the hole, then insert a new housing.

This worker was finished in only 5 minutes.

summary: The Thai workers I’ve worked with in general do a pretty good job of things, but it isn’t easy to get them to slow down on small intricate jobs.

2 Comments

  1. Hi Dozer

    I would have kicked that guy out straight away, obvious chancer

    Rule 97

    NEVER lend any tools to a tradesman. If he hasn’t got his own proper tools, then send him packing. Reason – you cant always judge the quality of a craftsman by the standard of his tools

    Make it clear from the start that you have no tools, he must do the whole job for a fixed price and in the way that you want it done _ its your money and you are the boss (let them try pulling that kind of trick on a thai-chinese business owner – who are several of my respected friends)

    Note

    ALWAYS drill a pilot hole into any wood used here – the drill should be 80% approx of the outside diameter of the screw thread – ACCEPT NO LESS. If they dont want to do it – FIRE the psod

    another tip is to coat the screw with ordinary hand soap – acts as a lubricant.

    yet another point – plain steel screws will go rusty and in particulerly will bind to the wood – becasue the wood is quite acidic. So if you ever have to remove screws in the future, try and use plated , stainless or brass screws

    I could write a book about screwing – anyone interested?

    Robin T

  2. PS

    Ive just noticed something else drilling into a concrete block wall – assuming you have at least a 10mm render thickness. Often you cant get hold of plastic rawl plugs – up country

    a good substitute is to use wooden tooth-picks bundled together- coated with PVA glue (never be without it – I glue my wife’s lips shut with it). This will make a very sold basis for using a wood screw (which doesnt corrode in this type of wood). Very solid after 24 hours

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